Friday, June 29, 2018

Every Deep Desire & The History of the Fianna: Part 2

In the Deadly Force series, which includes Every Deep Desire and the upcoming One Dark Wish, a group of disgraced ex-Green Berets are desperate to figure out who's responsible for their dishonor and discharges from the Army while they also battle two disparate enemies.

One of their enemies is known simply as the Fianna. A secretive and brutal army of assassins whose history dates back to pagan Irelend. Last month in Part 1, I wrote about the Fianna from the early Roman invasions up through the time of King Arthur. Today I'd like to jump ahead a bit to more modern accounts of these mythical warriors.

In 1866, a group of Irish soldiers who called themselves the Fianna, assaulted British forts and trading stations in Canada. These are still known as the Fenian Raids. Their goal was to gain independence for Ireland from Britain. These men, after their capture, cited the seven articles of the ancient Fianna army as written in Keating's History of Ireland and Hume's The History of England From the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688.
Since this was during the American Civil War, there's evidence the U.S. turned a blind eye to these assaults and even more speculation that the U.S. government wanted to use these Fianna warriors in unauthorized and unconventional ways. There's no proof these men ever fought for the Union Army, but there is anecdotal evidence that, because of their secretive brutal ways, they were asked to join the Civil War.

Ironically, these attacks were one of the reasons the provinces of Canada decided to form a single country in 1867. Neither the U.S. (who was at war with itself) nor the ineffectual Canadian Militia could take down the Fianna. It wasn't until the 1890's, when both Canada and the U.S. worked together, that they were they able to eradicate the threat.

As late as the World War II, there were murmurings (aka gossip) by German POWs held in Ireland of a brutal Irish underground army known as Na Fianna √Čireann. The Germans assumed they were part of the Fenian Brotherhood, a rebel offshoot of the men who fought in the early 20th century Irish rebellions. But the locals discounted that story and refused to talk about the young warrior men who lived on the outskirts of society. They were simply known as the Fianna.

It was while reading about the Canadian incidents that I first came across the connection of Shakespeare to the Fianna. Shakespeare was purported to be a secret supporter of Irish Nationalism and these captured men supposedly attempted to communicate in Shakespearean verse instead of Gaelic poetry. This is probably made-up gossip, but I thought it was so interesting that I included it in my own fictional Fianna army.

So, does the Fianna exist now? I hope not.

Did they ever exist? Yes. 

And not just in poetry and myth. From the research I've done, the Fianna was the single reason Rome never conquered the Isle and why the Picts and Scots, and even the Vikings, made few forays into Ireland until the late Middle Ages.

There is one documented historical fact written by the Roman Historian Tacitus. In the first century, around 82 AD, Rome's famous military governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola (who defeated Queen Boudica in 61 AD) sought to invade Ireland with 5,000 men. He even had a minor Irish King willing to betray his countrymen and help him overtake the Island. So, despite resources being stretched thin by battles with the Celts and Picts up in Scotland, he invaded with full confidence that he'd win.

The battle details are sketchy, but between battling the Fianna warriors from the moment they set foot on the Island, to an extremely rare mutiny within the Roman Legion ranks, Agricola lost and was recalled to Rome by the Emperor Domitian. After that, the stories say that the Roman Legionnaires refused to fight in Ireland or simply disappeared before they'd face the Fianna.

There are so many myths and poems written about the Fianna that it's hard to distinguish what was real and what wasn't. But that also gave me a lot of leeway when developing my version of the Fianna Army.

In Every Deep Desire, and the upcoming One Dark Wish, the 21st Century Fianna are a constant source of trouble for the men of the Deadly Force series. In the series, the Fianna are considered a myth by most of the world which gives them tremendous leeway and cover to torment my heroes. 

Since the heroes of the Deadly Force series work outside the law, battling an enemy no one believes exists, they're on their own to survive and redeem themselves. While at the same time trying to fall in love. :)

I hope you've enjoyed learning about the Fianna and I'm happy to answer any questions you may have! 

Sharon Wray is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes about the men in her Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets and their smart, sexy heroines retell Shakespeare's greatest love stories.

Sharon loves to interact on her website as well as on most social media platforms! 

Friday, June 15, 2018

A Flurry of Fictional Fathers

With Father’s Day coming up this Sunday, I was thinking about fathers in some of my favorite books. There’s Mr. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, for example. He’s not a great success as a parent, in my opinion. But Elizabeth loves him nonetheless.
A favorite of mine is Jonathan Chawley in Georgette’s Heyer’s A Civil Contract Mr. Chawley is one of her great characters. A vulgar “Cit,” he blusters and rages, but he’s a complete softie inside. He loves giving gifts and can be reduced to blubbering by his love for his daughter. Yet his employees quake in terror at the thought of his wrath.
I created a strong father figure in my Duke’s Sons series. The duke is mostly off screen through the books, but he enters the plot in The Duke Knows Best.

He smiled at her, and Verity’s breath caught. The Duke of Langford’s wholehearted smile was blindingly charming. It subsumed the smiles of all his handsome sons, and surpassed them. “You’re very welcome to our family, you know,” he said. “And we will make sure you get to join us.”
Verity found she couldn’t speak. She coughed to remind her throat of its proper function. “Th-thank you.”
Olivia appeared at Verity’s side. “Will you try Herr Grossmann, Your Grace? He’s ready for another…subject.”
“I believe you almost said victim, Miss Townsend.”
“I would never be so clumsy.”
“Wouldn’t you? Ah, there’s Conyingham. If you young ladies will excuse me.” He gave them an exquisite half bow and walked away.
Olivia watched him go. “You know those tiresome old men who leer at one and say, ‘If only I were thirty years younger’?”
“Yes?” replied Verity.
“Well, if only he was.”
Verity laughed.

Who are some of your favorite fictional fathers?

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Gunslinger's Vow is the first in a vibrant, sensual historical Western Series, featuring runaway brides searching for freedom in the Wild West.

Having previously published series in Regency England, I'm stepping into the American Old West! Check out the BookPage's article where I explain why I made the change. And...

Enjoy this excerpt from The Gunslinger's Vow!

“Why’d you leave?”

Her blue eyes met his, and the emotion in them hit hard to his gut.

“Boston or Montana?” she asked softly.

Suddenly uncomfortable with how personal the conversation had become, Malcolm shrugged. He wasn’t sure which option might be the less intrusive of the two.

“There was a time I thought I’d live my entire life in Montana. If you’ve ever spent any time there, you’d know it is beautiful country.” Her eyes went dark as she stared into the flickering flames, and her voice lowered with memory. “When I went East, I didn’t want to like Boston. It hadn’t been my choice to go. But I made friends, which is something I didn’t have much of in my childhood, and I started to appreciate the opportunities a big city could offer.”

She laughed, a warm sort of throaty chuckle. “My Aunt Judith scolded me countless times for my curiosity. I had a ceaseless compulsion to explore every corner of the city, the culture, the people. So very different from what I’d known before, but beautiful in its own way. Eventually, I came to love Boston.”

“More than Montana?” He shouldn’t want to know. He wasn’t even sure where the question came from

Her eyes met his. Gold flames danced in the blue of her gaze. “I guess that is what I am hoping to find out.”

Malcolm looked at her. Really looked at her.

Her boots were dusty, as was her split skirt and the shirt she wore under the oiled slicker he’d bought her. She’d pushed the wide-brimmed hat off her head, and it hung down her back by the thin cord around her neck. Her dark hair was just barely secured at the back of her head in a loose knot that allowed fine wisps to fall against her face and neck. She had dirty hands and a weary gaze, yet she displayed the hint of a smile about her mouth.

Despite her dishevelment, the fine Eastern lady who’d boldly strode into the Painted Horse Saloon was still there. She was present in the woman’s elegant posture and the refined way she spoke. In her quiet dignity and feminine softness.

It’s just that Malcolm was seeing something else besides all that. A light of adventure in her eyes, competence in her manner, and a deep, barely perceptible yearning.

There was more to this woman’s story than he’d first suspected. And even more going on in that head of hers than what she shared with her deceptively easy manner and light conversation.

After a few moments of returning his silent stare, she broke eye contact with a flutter of thick eyelashes and an almost rueful curl at the corner of her lips. “What about you, Malcolm Kincaid?”

He leaned back and eyed her with a lifted brow. “What about me?”

“Where do you come from?”

“Are we sharing our life stories now?”

Her gaze flicked back up to meet his. “I don’t need to know everything, but a little something wouldn’t hurt. We are going to be together for a couple of weeks, after all. Is there a reason we must remain strangers?”

Malcolm felt a rush of heat though his blood. Her innocent words reminded him of just how much he’d like to get to know her. Just not in the way she meant. And not in any way he intended to explore.

No matter how badly he wanted to taste that sweet mouth of hers.

He cleared his throat. “I ain’t got much to tell.”

“I don’t believe that.”

“Not much I want to tell.”

She smiled. “That sounds more truthful. You like your privacy. I understand. Perhaps you can just tell me how you came to be a bounty hunter.”

Malcolm shook his head. The woman was relentless.

“I am not going anywhere, Malcolm. You may as well open up a bit.”

Damn him, but he liked the sound of his given name on her lips. “I just sorta fell into it,” he answered gruffly.


He tossed her a heavy scowl for her persistence, to which she responded by grinning widely.

“I was looking for someone else when I happened upon a man I’d seen on some wanted posters in the last town. I wouldn’t have bothered with him, but he issued a challenge I couldn’t refuse. He lost, and I claimed the bounty.”

“Why on earth would he challenge you?”

Malcolm shrugged. “He said he didn’t like the way I talked.”


He smiled at her incredulous tone. “Why? You like my Texas drawl?”

Her expression lit up at the confession. “I should have guessed. I once met a man from Houston, and you do have a similar manner of speaking.”

“Houston is a far cry from where I grew up.”

“And where was that?”

He stiffened. It had been years since he’d thought about the cotton farm where he’d grown up. He and Gavin had basically agreed when they’d left that there was no reason to ever bring up the subject of their beginnings.

“Doesn’t matter,” he said with a tight jaw.


“Leave it.”

She closed her mouth sharply and stared hard at him across the flames. Darkness had fallen while they’d talked, and the night was close around them. The fire lit her face and cast sharp shadows beyond. It was clear that she wanted to press the matter, wanted to insist he tell her everything. The woman’s curiosity ran as deep as her stubborn nature. But his past was something Malcolm preferred to leave alone. There was nothing but pain and loss behind him.

After a bit, she lowered her gaze. “All right, I am sorry for prying.” Her blue eyes lifted again to catch his, and something in her expression twisted around his insides. “But yes, I do like your drawl.”

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Excerpt from Lynnette Austin's Must Love Babies

Must Love Babies, a heartwarming new contemporary romance series, features the Wylder brothers, bachelors who find themselves with unexpected bundles of joy...

Boutique owner Molly Stiles has no time for relationships, but when Brant Wylder is left to care for his sister’s baby, Molly can’t resist helping him. 

Enjoy this excerpt from Must Love Babies

On her way to the store, Molly drove past Annabelle’s Inn. Slowly. No Brant. No black Camaro. She told herself she wasn’t disappointed, that the feeling in the pit of her stomach was relief.

As she walked into the grocer’s, she admitted he was a temptation she’d find hard to resist. And speaking of temptations, Molly tossed a package of Oreos into her grocery cart. Rounding the corner, still working to convince herself she was glad Brant was gone, she almost ran over him.

He hadn’t left town!

Mortified, her hand instinctively flew to her hair. Why hadn’t she taken time to do more than run a brush through it? Or to change into something other than purple leggings and her favorite faded blue sweatshirt?

Brant, on the other hand? Seeing him last night in that black tux, a girl could have melted simply catching sight of him. Today in worn jeans that hugged his hips and butt and a forest-green, long-sleeved T-shirt, he looked rugged, badass, and every bit as delicious. Tux or jeans? How did a girl decide?

A high-pitched squeal caught her attention, and her eyes darted to the grinning baby.

Molly’s shocked gaze flicked to Brant and met his incredible eyes, the color of grass after a summer rain and fringed with the long, thick eyelashes women are never lucky enough to be born with. The baby in his cart shared both.

Her forehead creased in a frown, then her stomach hit the floor as dread filled her.

His sister. Did Brant have the baby because she’d—deep breath—because she’d died?

“Brant? Your sister. Is she okay?”

He nodded, and her world righted itself.

“Molly, meet my nephew, the unpredictable, unrivaled champion sucker of the pacifier, Jax Wylder.”

“Is Lainey doing better this morning?”

“She made it through surgery. While she heals, Jax and I are spending some quality time together, aren’t we, kid?”

Jax’s grin widened.

“Don’t let that smile fool you. The little bugger’s a tyrant,” Brant warned before he shifted his attention back to the baby food section. “Look at this. How can there be so many things to feed a toothless kid? Shouldn’t they just drink milk from a bottle…or from their mama?”

A whimper erupted from the baby, and Molly watched as Brant spun, wild-eyed, to his nephew.

“Oh no, champ, not now. You don’t want to look like a wuss in front of this beautiful lady. Remember what Frankie Valli said. Walk like a man.”

Molly watched, mesmerized, as the five-o’clock-shadowed male picked up the small baby. When he held him close, swaying and patting his back, singing the Four Seasons song, she went all tingly.

Jax quieted, his tiny fingers finding the pocket on Brant’s T-shirt.

Over the baby’s head, Brant shot Molly a look. “Frightening that somebody would trust me with this little guy, isn’t it?”

“Looks like you’re doing fine.”

“Looks can be very deceiving. I’m flying by the seat of my pants—and YouTube videos. Aren’t I, Jax?” He disentangled the baby’s fingers from his pocket and kissed each one.

Molly sighed.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” She blushed. “Nothing at all.”

Brant kissed the top of his nephew’s head. “Right here?” He pointed. “The consequence of sex.”

“Sex?” Her mind blew a fuse.

“Makes a guy think.”

It was making her think, too. And they weren’t thoughts she should be having.

“You can’t leave me alone with all this.” He swept a hand, indicating the mile-long aisle of baby foods and supplies.

Palming a jar of food, he gave it the evil eye. “The label says number two is for a six-month-old. Jax is seven. Do I still buy him a two? Or do I bump up to a three?”

“Brant, I don’t know any more about this than you do.”

“Isn’t it genetic or something? Part of a woman’s DNA?”

She smiled ruefully. “No. I don’t have younger siblings, no nieces or nephews. And before you ask, I never babysat. I have no experience whatsoever.”

“But you must love babies. I mean, who doesn’t?”

Jax let out a loud burp.

She laughed. “I do. Even burping male ones.”

“Quinoa and kale? Seriously? That’s like sending the kid off to some sissy spa. Real men don’t eat this stuff.” Shaking his head, he dropped it into the shopping cart along with a bag of organic pears and spinach mix.

They moved to the diaper section, and Brant groaned. “So does Jax need supersoft swaddlers or sensitive swaddlers?” He moved on to the next box. “Or maybe this twelve-hour protection that promises to keep him snug and dry for that long? That would cut down on the diaper changes.”

He glanced at Jax, who had found a piece of lint on his blanket that fascinated him. “I don’t think so. These must be for older kids with more bladder control.”

“Actually,” Molly said, looking closer at the boxes, “I think they’re sized by weight.”

“Okay, that makes it easier.”

“Do you know how much he weighs?”

“A little less than a car tire, so I’d say about seventeen, eighteen pounds.”

“Seriously? That’s how you figure weight?”

“Hey, I’m a car man. It’s what I do.” His shoulders slouched. “Give me a rusted-out car, and I can make the thing sing. Yet standing here in the baby aisle, I’m practically paralyzed for fear of screwing up.” He tipped his head and scanned the ceiling. “If somebody’s watching this on camera, you have my permission to laugh your butt off.”

Friday, June 1, 2018

Cowboy SEAL Redemption: An Excerpt

Cowboy SEAL Redemption is the second in the Navy SEAL Cobwoys series featuring three former Navy SEALS injured in the line of duty. It's the perfect blend of rough-and-tumble cowboys and honor-bound Navy SEALs.

Jack Armstrong and Rose Rogers strike a deal - she'll pretend to be his perfect loving girlfriend while his family is in town and he'll provide her bar with extra security. As their ruse starts to feel real, both must face the pain of their past. Can their troubled hearts find their way to redemption?

Enjoy this excerpt from Cowboy SEAL Redemption!

The ramshackle house was still unlivable—especially in the winter months—but sometimes in the summer, Rose could come out here and spend the night if she didn’t mind the mice.
Eventually she’d fix it up completely, not just the random little repairs she knew how to make. For now, regardless of how ugly it was, it was her escape. Her secret. The bar was her power, and this place was her sanctuary.
“Did you bring me here to kill me? Because that looks like the only possible thing you’d want to ‘show me’ at this place.”
“Hey, that’s my baby you’re talking about there. Be careful. And get out.” She slid out of the car herself and took a deep breath of the beautiful Montana summer night. These short stretches of summer weeks, when a person could go outside without a coat, always felt like magic. It was that brief period of time every year when she could pretend she lived somewhere warm and inviting.
“Seriously. What is this place?” Jack asked, stepping out of the car and looking around the starlight-dappled yard.
“This is my house,” she said, spreading her arms wide.
“I thought you lived at the bar?”
“I do. For now. Once I get this place fixed up and maybe promote Tonya to manager, it’ll be my full-time house.”
“Why’d you bring me to your house?”
She ignored that question and walked toward the pond. Jack needed a little recalibration. When you were stuck in a bad way of thinking, after a bunch of bad things happened to you, you needed to break free.
She had no business being the one to offer him a little solace, but she had solace, and growing up in a world empty of it meant she gave it when she could. No matter how often she tried to convince herself she was so much harder than all that.
She pulled her shirt up and over her head and let it fall to the ground. She didn’t miss the little squeaking sound that came out of Jack’s mouth when she did it, but she kept moving for the pond. Once she reached the bank, she shimmied out of her jeans.
“What are you doing?” he demanded.
She turned to face him, putting her back to the water. Moonlight shone on the sharp lines of his face—that perfect nose, high cheekbones, everything about him so angular and masculine, his expression so serious and stern. Even across the yard, lit only by the full moon, she could see the emotion in his eyes.
She’d been a little hard on him back at the bar, talking too frankly about Dad’s heavy fists, because this guy had his share of troubles. Even if they weren’t the same, even if they didn’t quite compare. But trouble… oh, she was intimately acquainted with trouble, and what Jack needed was to find himself a little of the right kind.
That was one thing she had in spades.
So she flashed a grin and hoped he could see it in what little light they had. And then she jumped backward into the icy-cold water of her pond. No amount of Montana summer sun could warm this up, but it wasn’t the sort of cold that would kill you. It was the kind of cold that reminded you that you were alive.
That was what Jack needed. She dove deep into the water, reminding herself of that, before coming back up to the surface.
She stood, letting her toes sink into the mud, the water lapping at her chin. “Your turn,” she called to him.
“I am not jumping into a pond. I thought I was the drunk one.”
“Come on. I promise it will change your life. I bet you’ve never been skinny-dipping.”
“I am not skinny-dipping. And, just for clarity, you aren’t either. You still have your underwear on.”
Rose laughed, stepping farther into the center of the pond, where she had to tread water to keep her head above the surface. “Okay, strip down to your skivvies and jump in.”
“I’m not stripping down to anything.”
“I thought you had some sense of humor in there. I guess I should’ve brought Gabe.”
Jack stepped forward with an irritated grunt and pulled his shirt over his head.
Rose regretted very, very deeply that it was the middle of the night and there was no daylight to see the whole of him. Because what little she could make out was…
“Is that a tattoo?” she called, squinting at the mark on his bicep.
He stepped to the edge of the pond, and she could see the downward turn of his mouth. “Yes, I have a tattoo.”
“And here I thought you were Mr. Clean-Cut.”
“I was drunk when I got it.”
She laughed at that. “You’re drunk now. Lose the pants and jump in.”
“I’m not taking off my pants.”
“You can’t swim in jeans.”
“Sure I can.”
“What are you so afraid of?” she returned, scooping her hand through the water and trying to splash him.
“My scars are not for public consumption.”
That shut her up for a second. Which was good, because she was letting this giddy feeling overtake her, and then she’d say stupid things and probably do stupider ones.
“This public can handle it. Take off your pants and jump in the pond.” Because she didn’t know how to be sweet or sympathetic, which was likely what Jack needed. Someone like Felicity, who would know how to give him a little peace and comfort that didn’t involve threats and icy water.
Who did she think she was, really? Like she was ever going to know how to help some former Navy SEAL who had voluntarily signed up to fight far away from home. He’d actually been brave enough to want to do that. She’d only ever fought because she didn’t have a choice, and sometimes she hadn’t fought at all.
She opened her mouth to tell him to forget it—maybe she’d even choke out an apology. Of course, that was when he decided to take off his pants anyway and jump in beside her.